Anthony Rizzo led off Sunday’s game with a double against Jameson Tailon and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rizzo has now reached base in all five of his at-bats to start a game since moving to leadoff for the Chicago Cubs. Rizzo has two home runs, a walk, a single, and now a double leading off games.
Rizzo homered in his first two leadoff at-bats and almost had a third-straight leadoff homerun, but his long fly was ruled foul in a controversial call. Rizzo would have become the first player to hit home runs to lead off three consecutive games since Brady Anderson of the Orioles accomplished the feat in four consecutive games in 1996.
Rizzo joked that he was the “greatest leadoff hitter of all-time,” after collecting home runs in his first two leadoff at-bats.
Rizzo has tied his career high, getting a hit in twelve-straight games. Including his three for five on Sunday, Rizzo is batting .410 with 3 home runs and 11 RBIs in his last 11 games. The 34-34 Cubs are 3-2 since Rizzo took over as leadoff batter.
The defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs have been searching for a leadoff batter all season since losing last year’s leadoff batter, Dexter Fowler, to free agency. Fowler was a catalyst for the Cubs, batting .276 with a .393 OBP, .840 OPS and 84 runs in 456 at-bats.
The Cubs turned some heads when they decided to start the season with slugger Kyle Schwarber batting in the leadoff position. Schwarber struggled in the spot, batting .185 with a .304 OBP, .356 SLG, .660 OPS and 48 strikeouts in 146 at-bats.
Despite their struggles so far, the Cubs are only 2.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the N.L. Central. Moving Rizzo to leadoff might be just what the team needs to get their season back on track. Manager Joe Maddon told the Chicago Tribune, that he doesn’t know how long he will keep Rizzo batting leadoff but likes the early results.
“If you don’t put him there, he doesn’t get pitched to at all,” said Maddon. “So let him make an impact and see how it plays out and get the other guys frisky again and move it back around. Right now, he’s loving it and doing a great job, and we’re scoring runs.”